Don’t settle for less than you deserve

Life is too short to do work that makes you miserable

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Snapped at Escape The City's pop-up cafe in London's Old Street station, UK

It was a bright Friday morning in January 2016 when it hit me. Why am I clinging onto this job for dear life when it’s destroying me and my health?

Sounds pretty heavy. Let me backtrack and add some context.

I’m one of those people who had a career plan from a young age. While studying for my GCSEs I decided that I wanted to work in marketing, so I put steps in place to make that happen. Once I’d powered through university and an 18-month stop-gap job, I got my break.

There was I, 23 years old with an offer to work for a cool marketing agency! Celebratory pats on the back and prosecco all round.

On paper, things were great. I earned myself two promotions within my three and a half years at that first agency, before a competitor came knocking on my metaphorical (LinkedIn) door. I had established a good reputation with some decent experience under my belt. In reality, cracks were showing.

I was battling with stress levels that were careering out of control. I felt increasingly intimidated by clients I worked with and anxiety became part of my daily life. I couldn’t sleep because I’d be panicking about how much work I had on, and I missed my friends who I barely saw because I always worked long hours. I liked to think I was a warm, compassionate woman with my glass half full, but after four years working in marketing I barely recognised that version of myself.

So here we are, back at that January Friday morning. Like a monumental slap around the face I realised that I was completely miserable, and had been for some time. That I wasn’t coping with this job; I felt grey all over and admitted that I didn’t like the person I’d become.

A light bulb flicked on in my mind: I wasn’t suited to the job I was doing and that was okay. I had given my career plan a good go but it hadn’t worked out too well. So what?

But here’s the best bit: I didn’t have to settle for this life. I had the choice to walk away from this version of events because I believed that I could do better.

So that’s what I did. Come Monday, I handed my notice in.

The lesson I learnt is to take control of your life. If you’re not happy in a job, if you’re in a dead-end relationship, if you’re clinging onto a friendship just for the sake of nostalgia, be honest with yourself.

You don’t need to settle.

Listen to those niggling voices – they’re seeds of doubt gently tapping you on the shoulder trying to get your attention, which could become overwhelming unless you get things in order. Take responsibility for having a constructive attitude and making positive change; it is your life and it’s up to you to make it better. You’re not alone in this struggle so don’t be shy in asking for help.

But be realistic too; sometimes life is beige. We all go through phases of boredom and complacency in jobs and relationships, and navigating through those lows is a test of character. That grind is a part of life, making the highs even more special. Just know that constant downs shouldn’t become the norm.

Because your life is worth so much more than settling for less than you deserve.  

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